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Slovakia Poetry

Threatened Species

Mária Ferenčuhová

Slovakia Poetry

Threatened Species

Mária Ferenčuhová

Author

Mária Ferenčuhová (1975) is a linguist, translator, film theoretician and poet. She is the author and co-author of three scientific monographs on film, dealing extensively with domestic film and documentary films. She translates prose, poetry and essays from French, and has produced four collections of poetry that have been translated into several languages and for which she has received several awards.

Overview

Her poetry resembles entries in a diary, with which she constantly records and describes her everyday life, her emotional life, and her motherly experience. Especially the latter sometimes seems a bit cold, with the images often infiltrated by nihilism, especially when considering the future that she sees in the shadows of the anti-utopia and the environmental apocalypse, which no one in Slovakia has ever thought about at the time when the collection was released.

Praise

The poet and critic Ján Gavura has coined the phrase “oko kameramanky” (camerawoman’s eye), referring to her work as a lecturer on film. This is slightly misleading for Anglophone readers for whom Isherwood’s “I am a camera” belongs to another era of realism in writing. Mária is not a realist in that sense at all. Certainly there is an ability to switch visual perspectives in the space of a single poem, to zoom in and out. In “Threatened Species,” the sequence opens with a view from space: “The view from above doesn’t belong to a god / but a satellite”; but by section ten we have a microscopic viewpoint: “we examine the skin on faces, / maps of blood vessels, craters for cells.” There is also a merging of the self with the environment; human beings in Mária’s poems are also animals and not separated from the environment. Often in her poetry the body becomes both exterior and interior landscape, a juxtaposition of macroscopic and microscopic vision akin to the hermetic doctrine of “as above, so below.” I read Mária’s poetry with same excitement that I first read the English Metaphysicals many years ago.

James Sutherland-Smith